Just a few days removed from a 98-40 romp of Alabama A&M, Iowa State is gearing up to face some more equivalent competition.
With holiday break comes holiday basketball tournaments, and this year the Cyclones (2-0, 0-0 Big 12) drew the Global Sports Classic.
Campbell kicks off the sporadic tournament, which finishes up in Las Vegas after Thanksgiving, with an evening matchup at Hilton Coliseum on Sunday. Campbell (1-1, 0-0 Big South), which is picked to win the Big South North Division, may not ring a bell for some Cyclone fans but ISU coach Fred Hoiberg said he isn’t taking the Fighting Camels lightly.
“We’ve got an opponent coming in here that’s got some very good players that have been a part of some big wins, including a big one in the state of Iowa last year,” Hoiberg said. “They’ve got three guards that can really play, they can really fly it up the floor, can really get it out in transition.”
The big win Hoiberg eluded to was Campbell’s 77-61 win against Iowa last season, when the small school from Buies Creek, N.C., blocked 10 Hawkeye shots in the victory at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Campbell guard Darren White scored 17 points against Iowa last season and is averaging 23 points and 9.5 rebounds per this year. To Iowa State’s advantage, Chris Babb will return to action from an undisclosed suspension Sunday and will share the task of containing White with a few teammates.
“Coach already talked to me about that and I haven’t really watched any film on that but we’ll take care of that today and go from there,” Babb said on Thursday.
When asked if Babb would start or come off the bench, Hoiberg was unsure as of Thursday’s practice. Hoiberg did say Melvin Ejim, Will Clyburn and Georges Niang would also get in on the action.
After the Cyclones face North Carolina A&T on Tuesday, the team heads for Las Vegas to see what could be its toughest test of the nonconference season. Hoiberg and Co. are scheduled to play No. 24 Cincinnati on Nov. 23 and either No. 18 UNLV or Oregon the following day.
Clyburn said it’s always good to see where they stack up against top competition so early on.
“We get to measure ourself early and just see where we’re at in the country, basically,” Clyburn said.
With Campbell and North Carolina A&T as precursors to Las Vegas, the Cyclones won’t have to jump right into Las Vegas for some top-25 matchups. Babb realizes the holiday tournament will be a step up from their recent opponents and added Campbell will help get them ready for Cincinnati and maybe even UNLV.
“They obviously have a lot of players, guys that can score, so I think it will definitely help us going into those top-ranked teams,” Babb said.
Iowa State and Campbell are scheduled to tip off at 6 p.m. Sunday at Hilton Coliseum.